Don’t Let Your Sales Managers Sabotage Your Training

Originally published
Originally published: 5/1/2014

Convert your biggest determents to your biggest promoters of success 

Business leaders who have a negative attitude toward sales training likely had a bad experience — they paid good money, but it didn’t change their sales team’s behavior. After experiencing that a couple of times, it seems rational to eliminate the outside training expense. 

You might assume the root of the issue lies with the training company and its inability to have a long-term impact on the sales force. But is that really the problem? 

There are a number of possible explanations — from treating sales training as an event instead of an ongoing behavior change process, to salespeople who view attending sales training sessions as torture, to the company’s failure to provide follow-up coaching for the sales team. These are all real issues that can negate any potential success you might experience from your investment. 

There is another factor that’s often the real cause for the failure of the training: intentional or unintentional sabotage by the sales team management. 

Are your sales managers trying to take the edge off their charges having to go to training by reassuring them, “Yes, you have to go to the training, but don’t worry. Just go and when you get back, sell the way you’ve always sold?” 

Some sales managers simply don’t want to invest the time and energy in learning new strategies and tactics themselves and, consequently, don’t care whether their folks adopt the training. 

If you fail to get full buy-in from your sales management team for the specific training you’re presenting, you’ll not have comprehensive and universal implementation of the training. 

Your frontline sales managers who work with their team members have more influence on how your salespeople sell than anyone else — more than senior executives, more than middle sales management, more than the training department, more than HR and more than the sales trainers you hire. 

If sales managers don’t believe, the salespeople won’t believe. 

You must get your sales managers to reinforce the messages, the strategies and the tactics, or those occasional training sessions will be nothing more than expensive exercises in futility. 

Before you ever put a salesperson in a training workshop or seminar, each and every manager must have gone through the management version of the training. Each manager must understand what the company’s comprehensive, unified sales process is and how the particular scheduled training fits in the big picture; what short- and long-term results are to be expected; what their job is in reinforcing and coaching the training; and what criteria will be used to determine the success or failure of the training. 

Most of all, each manager must believe in the process and strategy. 

Whether the training is presented by an in-house trainer or by a professional trainer brought in from outside, each intensive should consist of a management segment designed to gain manager buy-in and give managers the tools and knowledge they need to coach sellers once they’re back at the office. 

Although the initial cost of training in terms of both time and money will increase, the long-term result will be reduced waste of training dollars and increased sales. That wished-for unified sales process will begin to become a reality because the biggest determent to success (sales management) has been turned into the biggest promoter of success.

Paul McCord, owner of McCord Associates, has more than 30 years of experience in sales, sales leadership, building and growing companies, and has trained thousands of sellers and sales leaders. He is the author of Creating a Million Dollar a Year Sales Income: Sales Success through Client Referrals, which was selected for inclusion in the Forbes Book Club. For additional information, visit 


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